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Weekly roundup 03/02/2017

Sir Mark Walport, the first CEO of UKRI

03/02/2016

In the news recently:

On being announced as the first CEO of UKRI, Sir Mark Walport stated his opinion that a shake-up of UK research funding is needed if the country is to remain internationally competitive. He noted the UK’s world-leading universities and research institutes, the country’s track record of success in applied science, and the strength of the pharmaceutical, aerospace, and technology sectors. However, he made clear that the UK needs to improve or risk being left behind other countries. You can read his article in the Times Higher Education.

Light-printed, rewritable paper has been developed by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Shandong University. The paper can be printed with UV light, erased by heating to 120°C and rewritten more than 80 times by utilising the colour-changing chemistry of nanoparticles, a thin coating of which can easily be applied to conventional paper. The team believes this could have ‘enormous economic and environmental merits to modern society’. Read more in Nano Letters.

A team from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China, claims it has used the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tool to produce cloned cattle with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis. Bovine TB is a risk to cattle in many countries, including parts of the UK, Africa and Asia. However, some scientists have expressed doubts about whether the transgenic cattle would be resistant if exposed to tuberculosis in normal conditions.
Professor Ian McConnell, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Science at the University of Cambridge, commented, ‘Although it is a thorough and novel paper on using gene technology in transgenic cattle at this stage I doubt if the research will have any application to prevention of TB in cattle using transgenic technology’. You can read the study in Genome Biology.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has granted final approval for the trial of a genetically modified wheat crop at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, UK, that we reported on in November 2016. Read more about the trial and its possible benefits here.

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